Potato strings on the lasagna, and other upgrade fun

The fickle upgrade gods are very much exactly that.  Fickle.  And Continental makes it easy to wring one’s hands over the upgrades.  Their website makes it easy for passengers to monitor their position on the upgrade waitlist, as well as the number of open seats in the front cabin.  So around 10am today I logged in to check.  The ultimate tease presented itself.  I was number one on the list but the front cabin was booked full.  Bummer.

An hour prior to the flight I was happily ensconced in the Presidents Club, having a pre-flight beverage and I checked again.  Still number one on the list but now only 19 seats up front booked.  Things are getting interesting.  With only one seat open up front it seemed somewhat a waste of time to add my wife to the list as a companion upgrade but, you’ve gotta be in it to win it so what the heck.  Besides, without that upgrade I’m still sitting in the back.

A quick trip up to the counter and she’s on the list.  Except she’s not.  When I got back over to the bar where I left my laptop and refresh the list she still wasn’t there.  Finish the drink – priorities – and then back to the counter.  We go through the process again and a quick refresh confirms that she is now there, sitting pretty at number three and still one seat available.

Fast forward to the gate at boarding time.  One last check before taking our exit row seats.  Uh-oh.  The upgrade gods are toying with us.  That last seat is now taken by someone else and we’ve dropped to numbers two and four on the list.  Such is life.  For the price I paid I can’t really complain about the exit row.  Besides, I‘ve got a pretty good sub in my bag that I brought for dinner.  So we board and settle in to our seats. 

Just to pain myself I refresh the list to see where we’re going to end up on the list.  Sacre Bleu!  Only 18 seats booked up front now, and I’m still number two on the list.  Could there be such a miracle?  And then, 10 minutes prior to departure, four seats available and we’re in spots 2 and 4.  We’re in the money assuming the race ends as shown at that point.  And then, with 5 minutes to go, the announcement is made that the forward boarding door is closed.  One more refresh and the top three are cleared, leaving one empty and me (in the form of my wife’s companion upgrade) in that last spot. 

Awww…screw it.  I know I’m supposed to be in that seat.  It is time for drastic measures.  I make the self-upgrade happen.  I explain the situation to the head flight attendant – that I’m next on the list – and he understands and acknowledges that he was going to find that next person so I can go ahead and sit down.  Even better, the two seats they assigned to us are actually together.  No need to bother the other passengers with trying to move around at the last minute.

IMG00105-20091211-1947And that brings us to the potato strings on the lasagna.  We were in the last row of first so no choice in our dinner: lasagna with red pepper soup and a salad.  It actually was all decent, but they had crispy potato stings on the lasagna.  I just don’t get that one at all.  Still, dinner was pretty good and the Argentinean red wine that Continental is serving this month is actually pretty decent.  Of course I’m driving on arrival so I can’t fully take advantage of the situation but such is life.

And on a day of crazy winds in Newark our flight is on-time into Ft. Lauderdale.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Oh, and to the guy in 15C who the deadheading flight attendant told you’d probably get the upgrade but who was behind my wife (i.e. me) on the list, sorry for getting your hopes up and then squashing them when it didn’t happen.  Oops.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.